Georgia Nursing Schools and Programs

NurseJournal Staff
Updated November 30, 2023
Get details about nursing schools in Georgia, the state licensing process, earning potential, and what it's like to work in the state.
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Georgia is known for its friendly people, Southern hospitality, and low cost of living. It also offers great opportunities for nurses. Projections Central projects a 18.1% increase in demand for registered nurses (RNs) by 2030, which is much higher than the national average.

This guide can help you decide if pursuing nursing education and a career in the Peach State is right for you. Explore how to get a state license, earning potential, and details about the top nursing schools in Georgia, including those that can prepare you for a career as a nurse practitioner (NP).

Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing schools and programs in Georgia.

The Best Nursing Schools in Georgia

Georgia is home to an array of nursing education options, such as large state universities, local community colleges, and private colleges of all sizes. To help you identify the ideal program for your needs and goals, we’ve compiled the following list of the best nursing schools in the state.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Georgia, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1 Georgia Nursing Schools and Programs

Emory University

  • Location-markerAtlanta, GA
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$53,070
  • Out-of-state$53,070
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate19%
  • Students Enrolled13,997
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment87%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Georgia Nursing Schools and Programs

Berry College

  • Location-markerMount Berry, GA
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$37,720
  • Out-of-state$37,720
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate77%
  • Students Enrolled2,125
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment40%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Georgia Nursing Schools and Programs

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

  • Location-markerRome, GA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,400
  • Out-of-state$4,800
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled6,608
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment71%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Georgia Nursing Schools and Programs

Oconee Fall Line Technical College

  • Location-markerSandersville, GA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,400
  • Out-of-state$4,800
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,835
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment68%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Georgia Nursing Schools and Programs

Mercer University

  • Location-markerMacon, GA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$28,695
  • Out-of-state$28,695
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled9,006
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment48%
  • AccreditationYes

Best Georgia Nurse Practitioner Programs

Popular MSN Programs

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How to Choose a Nursing Program in Georgia

There are dozens of nursing schools in Georgia, including some of the top-ranked programs in the country. However, you should consider several factors when choosing where to apply.

Look at program curriculum and length, the availability of both in-person and online nursing school requirements, and clinical details, such as available clinical placement assistance. Tuition and financial aid options are also important considerations.

Nursing students may qualify for federal student aid. Georgia’s HOPE Programs offer scholarship and grant assistance to qualified students, but learners should look at nursing financial aid options specific to the program as well.

To become a licensed nurse in Georgia, you must complete a program approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing. Accreditation for nursing programs is important because it ensures that all nurses in the state have been trained to the same standards and that nursing programs adequately prepare graduates for safe, effective practice.

If you choose a program not board approved, you will not qualify for a nursing license in Georgia.

Why Become a Nurse in Georgia

Becoming a nurse in Georgia offers many advantages. In addition to plenty of job opportunities and competitive salaries, Georgia has some policies that might make it attractive to nurses.

For example, nurses do not have to join a nurses’ union to gain employment, as Georgia is a right-to-work state. Georgia also upholds the Family Care Act, also known as the Kin Care Law. This allows employees to use paid sick leave to care for immediate family members, not just themselves.

Georgia is a Nurse Licensure Compact state, meaning licensed nurses here are authorized to work in 30 other compact states. Nurses who wish to work in Georgia, but have licenses from noncompact states, can get a Georgia license by endorsement.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Georgia

Nurses in Georgia earn an average salary of $71,510, slightly less than the national median earnings of $75,330, according to the BLS. Nurse practitioners also earn less than the national average in the Peach State, with an average salary of $106,620, compared to the national median of $111,670.

Although RN pay ranks 29th in the nation, and NP pay comes in 40th, the cost of living here is also one of the lowest in the United States. Georgia ranks 48th on the cost-of-living index, and housing is among the most affordable in the nation.

Demand for RNs between 2018 and 2028 is projected to increase by 22.5%, much higher than the national average of 9%. Demand for nurse practitioners should increase slower than the national average. However, at 41.4% projected growth, demand for NPs is still very high. The BLS projects a continued nursing shortage through 2030.

It’s no surprise that Georgia’s largest metropolitan area, Atlanta, is also its highest-paying city. Atlanta is home to five of the state’s highest-ranked hospitals, including two Magnet hospitals. However, Georgia nurses can also earn competitive salaries in smaller cities and rural regions.

The table below details the top five highest-paying metro areas.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Georgia
Top Paying Metropolitan AreasAverage Salary for RNs
Atlanta — Sandy Springs — Roswell$80,760
Athens — Clarke County$73,370
Augusta — Richmond County$72,420
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Georgia

The Georgia Board of Nursing oversees all nurse credentialing. The board also sets nursing regulations and education requirements. The following is an overview of the general processes for licensure as an RN or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

RN Requirements

As in all states which have RN requirements, nurses in Georgia are required to be licensed before practicing. Licensure requires completing an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

Georgia allows nurses to apply for licensure online or by paper application. If you earn your degree from an out-of-state nursing school, you must submit a paper application. Graduates of in-state nursing programs can apply online without submitting transcripts, as those are automatically sent to the Georgia Board of Nursing by the school.

Before submitting your application, register for the NCLEX exam with Pearson Vue and COGENT (the state background check service). The application fee is $40. Most applications are processed in 15 days, but there may be a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

APRN Requirements

To become an APRN in Georgia, you’ll need a master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice. The Georgia Board of Nursing requires applicants to hold a valid Georgia RN license and submit verification of active national certification in their specialty.

If you’ve never been licensed as an APRN in any state, you’ll also need to submit transcripts showing a completed graduate program.

If you’re licensed in another state and seeking your first Georgia APRN license, you have the option to submit documentation of 500 hours of practice if you completed your graduate program more than four years ago.

To apply for an APRN license, submit a paper application; there is no online option. The fee is $75.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Georgia

question-mark-circleHow long does it take to become a nurse in Georgia?

Depending on the degree type (ADN or BSN), it takes 2-4 years to become a nurse in Georgia. Both degrees qualify you to take the NCLEX. However, some employers, including Magnet hospitals, require RNs to hold a BSN.

question-mark-circleIs Georgia state good for nursing?

Overall, Georgia consistently ranks among the top states for nurses. The Department of Health and Human Services identifies Georgia as a state that will have a significant nursing shortage by 2030, so nurses can find many job options.

Although salaries are moderate compared to other states, they are offset by the low cost of living. The pleasant climate, safe neighborhoods, and overall quality of life also make this an attractive place to live.

question-mark-circleHow do I become a nurse in Georgia?

To become a nurse in Georgia, earn an ADN or a BSN degree and pass the NCLEX to qualify for a license issued by the Georgia Board of Nursing. If you already hold a license from a Nursing Compact state, you can apply for a license by endorsement.

question-mark-circleHow often do you need to renew your nursing license in Georgia?

Georgia requires nurses to renew their licenses every two years. All licenses expire on January 31. For example, a license issued or renewed in 2021 will expire on January 31, 2023. Nurses must complete one of five continuing education/competency options for nurses to qualify for renewal.

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